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Listener's letter re: Bearbrook Wetlands

I appreciate the reference to "local information" in CJRO's query to the city authorities about the Bearbrook Wetlands Evaluation (and virtual meeting Feb. 8:) but I question whether respondent John Snow really understood what was meant by "local knowledge." He mentioned it only once: "the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (OWES). That system will incorporate local knowledge of flora and fauna, where available and subject to verification. If the wetland evaluation results in a Planning Act process, that process will be subject to the statutory requirements . . ."

It looks as if Mr Snow had no awareness of the notorious Carlsbad Springs Satellite City project of the 1970s. At that date various planners (including the Ontario Land Bank and the federal Ministry of State for Urban Affairs" proposed making Carlsbad Springs a new city, separate from Ottawa and outside the NCC Greenbelt, for a population ultimately exceeding 100,000, with its own factories, shopping malls etc., as well as both apartment buildings and suburban subdivisions.

This did not happen, and the basic reason why it did not happen was "local knowledge." The initial plan (so far as anyone knows) assumed that nothing prevented building at Carlsbad Springs anything different from what was in 1970 normal in Ottawa (ten-floor office buildings and the new Skyline Hotel (20 floors?)) By contrast, such rural figures as Gloucester councillors and local businessmen knew that you could not build tall buildings here because of the subsurface geology (sand and Leda Clay, cf. the disastrous landslip at St-Jean-Vianney, Quebec, which killed 31 people in 1971.)

That was the "local knowledge" of which the "big picture" planners seemed unaware; but more careful geological study led to the cancellation of the project (albeit with lasting consequences, most obviously NCC acquisation of thousands of acres outside the official Greenbelt, that it seems the NCC hardly knows what to do with.) Appropriate application of local knowledge to the Miller/Taggart and Tewin projects seems urgent: but how many people at City Hall understand this? It seems likely Mr Snow does not.


Don Phillipson

Carlsbad Springs

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